Recommendation: Conditional Approval
Proposal: Full planning application for the redevelopment of the Carnival Pool site to create leisure led development as part of the regeneration of Wokingham town centre. The proposals include the demolition of all existing buildings on site and the construction of: a leisure centre (use class D2); library (use class D1); restaurant (use class A3); commercial unit for non-residential institution or assembly and leisure use (use classes D1 or D2); 55 dwellings (use class C3); pedestrian and vehicular access including a pedestrian boulevard and realignment of Wellington Road; car parking; hard and soft landscaping; realignment of an existing footpath; drainage and infrastructure works; and associated servicing and utilities.
Applicant: Wokingham Borough Council
Councillor Angus Ross indicated that he had been involved in the concept of Carnival Pool in his previous role as Executive Member for Environment but had not been involved in the planning process. He still had an open mind with regards to the decision.
The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in Agenda pages 11 to 78.
The Committee was advised that the Members’ Update included:
· Two additional representations;
· Clarification that not all activities, for example exercise classes that used music, would be covered by a premises licence;
· Wokingham Town Council’s comments on the application;
· An updated recommendation.
Members had visited the site on 6 November 2017.
Imogen Shepherd-DuBey, Wokingham Town Council, spoke to the application. Whilst the Town Council largely welcomed the application concerns had been expressed regarding parking provision and Imogen Shepherd-DuBey questioned whether it would be sufficient for those with disabilities in particular. She commented that there was no provision for bus stops along Wellington Road and that the transport plan did not reflect the reality of the current bus service. She questioned whether cyclists and pedestrians travelling to and from the site were adequately provided for and if the proposed cycle storage would be sufficient. In addition she commented that the grey anthracite windows proposed for the blocks of flats were out of keeping with the surrounding area and would date quickly. With regards to the swimming pool, Imogen Shepherd-DuBey emphasised that the current pool had a splash/beach pool for young children and that she believed similar should be provided in future.
Keith Malvern, resident, spoke in objection to the application. He questioned why the previous application had not been proceeded with. He went on to emphasise the need to gain the views of an independent financial adviser as to whether the scheme could or could not support affordable housing.
David Smith and Philip Mirfin spoke on behalf of Wokingham Borough Council, applicant, in favour of the application. Philip Mirfin commented that there was a need for regeneration and that the Council had a proven track record of regeneration for Wokingham. David Smith commented that the scale and the layout of the application remained largely the same as the previous application. He informed Members that there had been extensive stakeholder engagement.
Oliver Whittle, Ward Member for Wescott spoke in favour of the application.
In response to Member questions regarding the provision of a cycle lane along Wellington Road, the Planning Officer commented that the Council did not have full control of the relevant land along Wellington Road and as such a continuous cycle lane along this road was unlikely. Members queried what cycle storage would be available and were informed that the site overprovided against requirements; storage facilities would be available within the residential development, outside the library and leisure centre entrance and also in two smaller clusters elsewhere.
With regards to buses to the site, the Planning Officer indicated that the existing bus stop by the development would remain and that a bay which would be located near the site could potentially be used as a pull in bay for buses. The frequency of bus services was dependent on the level of demand.
The Committee discussed parking in some detail. Members questioned whether the proposed disabled parking provision was adequate. The Service Manager, Highways Development commented that there were sufficient disabled parking spaces within the multi-storey car park, with a lift being available for spaces located on the higher levels. With regards to the distance between the parking spaces and the leisure centre entrance, the proposals were compliant with Department of Transport guidance. Resting points such as benches would be available between the parking and the leisure centre in line with the guidance.
Members were informed that each of the 55 residential units would be allocated a parking space; with 24 bays in front of the flats and the remainder allocated within the multi storey car park. Visitors would also use the multi-storey car park. A Member questioned whether those residents allocated parking bays within the multi-storey car park would be given parking permits and if they would be free. The Service Manager, Highways Development indicated that they would but how this would be managed would be a matter for discussion between the developer and the car park management, the detail would be secured through the parking management condition. He also commented that residents parking in a car park was not unusual for sites located within a town centre location.
A Member questioned whether there would be charging points for electric cars and was informed that there were already points within the multi-storey car park.
It was clarified that during the operational phase there would not be space for on-site recycling of building materials.
In response to a Member question about changing facilities for those performing in shows, the Planning Officer commented that wet and dry changing facilities would be available.
Members requested that an informative regarding finding a suitable site for the Mark Tildesley memorial bench, be added.
The Committee requested that the conditions relating to external materials, trees, landscaping and drainage should be agreed by the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Ward Members.
RESOLVED: That Application no 172012 be approved subject to:
1) a commitment to make contributions to mitigate the impact of the development in terms of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area and travel planning in accordance with paragraphs 105-109 and 124 of the report;
2) confirmation from the independent financial advisor that the scheme cannot support the provision of affordable housing; and
3) the conditions as set out on Agenda pages 13 to 27 and additional informative proposed at the meeting. The conditions relating to external materials, trees, landscaping and drainage to be agreed by the Chairman, Vice Chairman and Ward Members.